S5b_03
(Mis)reading pop culture texts in Japan and beyond

Convenors:
Mark McLelland (University of Wollongong)
Chair:
James Welker (Kanagawa University)
Discussant:
James Welker (Kanagawa University)
Section:
Media Studies
Location:
I&D, Piso 4, Multiusos 2
Start time:
31 August, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

The papers in this panel examine what is at stake when media products and practices originating in Japan are consumed and interpreted differently by diverse audiences, both in Japan and globally.

Long abstract:

The papers in this panel examine what is at stake when media products and practices originating in Japan are consumed and interpreted differently by diverse audiences, both in Japan and globally. Audiences today are increasingly exposed to media texts and practices that require multiple literacies in order to understand and contextualise them - involving complex negotiations between meanings that dominate at a text's point of origin and at its point of reception. These different ways of understanding a text can cause conflict between different audiences - for example Mark McLelland explores the divergence in understanding between Japanese-literate fans who appreciate the playful and parodic manner in which sexuality or violence is dealt with in a manga or anime, and officials from a ratings authority who consider sexual content inappropriate for certain youth audiences. Next, using examples of narrative communication from text messages to literature, Alisa Freedman explores how emoji have led to both playful ways of expressing sensitive topics and dangerous cultural misunderstandings. Finally Debra Occhi considers the limits of moe anthropomorphization in media representation through the case study of Unako 'eel girl' in which multiple literacies and clashing interpretations (even within Japanese cultural contexts) created a rift between producer intent and audience reception, resulting in failure (or, specifically, withdrawal of the PR video and a media bashing). We show how in today's complex mediascapes, meanings do not line up tidily with each other and that consequently participating in a global media culture demands new kinds of literacy practices from audiences, producers and cultural gatekeepers.